Director: Stephen Sommers
Starring: Brenda Fraser, Rachel Weisz, John Hannah
Kaboom Review Action Movie Rating: 74
Rick O’Connell and family attempt to stop the reincarnated Mummy from reviving and then defeating the long-dead Scorpion King in order to gain control over his vast army.
Where The Mummy stayed within its boundaries excellently, The Mummy Returns at times tries to do too much, and loses a bit of the charm of the original. However, The Mummy Returns manages to back down just enough from these errors to remain a solid complement to the sequel.
The Mummy Returns, sequel to The Mummy, was given the go-ahead for production on the same day that the Mummy was released. It hit screens two years later, with the main cast back from the Mummy.
We gave an 82-rating and a Bronze Explosion Award to The Mummy, and in many ways The Mummy Returns has the same flavor as the original: there is a ton of fast-paced action, occasional comic relief tossed in to break the tension, and a decent story set in a backdrop of early 20th-century Egypt. But unlike the original effort, The Mummy Returns often tries too hard to outdo The Mummy, and more often than not, adding more has resulted in less.
Much of the excellence of both of these movies comes from the actors’ abilities to play their roles with gusto. With the cast of the original movie intact, the sequel continues right where The Mummy left off. Brendan Fraser carries the lead role well, although at times he and the other actors seem to exaggerate the endearing qualities of their characters. Rachel Weisz, playing Rick O’Connell’s wife Evie, is more confident here, and she does a fine job portraying the growth of her character. Interestingly, she has also blossomed into a more alluring woman in this movie. Oded Fehr does a fine job in his role as a desert raider. As in The Mummy, he and Fraser boost the movie’s Hunk score. On the villain side, Arnold Vosloo does another excellent job as the mummy. Surprisingly, Patricia Velasquez, as the mummy’s lover and co-villain, didn’t impress me as much as she did in the first movie, both with regards to overall beauty and acting ability. She comes off flat in her role. Still, the Babe score for this movie benefits greatly from her presence.
But the biggest addition to the cast is a perfect example of how adding more to this movie ends up with giving us less. For some bizarre reason, the producers got struck with “Temple of Doomitis” and added Freddie Boath to the cast as Alex O’Connnell, the young son of Rick and Evie. Maybe this was done for marketing purposes, who knows, but anyone who has watched Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom can tell you this: It is bad idea to add young children to action movie sequels. Don’t get me wrong, I love kids—but not in action movies. They generally can’t act yet; they usually damage the premise by defeating adults in ways that are hardly plausible; directors feel compelled to portray them as cute and resourceful, which invariably ends up coming across as cloying and annoying; and they always get caught. All of these things happen in The Mummy Returns, and the movie is weaker because of it.
Despite this weakness, however, the cast on the whole does an excellent job, and is bolstered by ample support. The script is effective, and at times manages to effectively make fun of itself. The plot works, and the story stays within its premise. The pace is excellent; fine editing keeps most scenes to effective lengths. However, a couple of scenes (the mummy guard battle and the jungle approach to the temple) carry on a bit too long.
Action-wise, the movie is a treat. There are some top-notch scenes in the movie, and the scale is well beyond that of the original movie. To highlight just a few: rock mummy guards chase a bus through London; ferocious pygmies ambush the mummy’s troops in the jungle; and an army of desert raiders battle the digitally created canine warriors of the army of Anubis. Special effects and stunts are top notch, and in most cases blend nicely with the action.
As with the cast, however, The Mummy Returns at times tries to do too much with its action sequences. At these times, the movie comes precariously close to jumping the shark. There is a battle in the London Museum where our heroes rip apart a much larger enemy force, mainly thanks to the enemies brilliantly standing in neat lines in the open while fighting. In another scene, the mummy creates a massive tidal wave to stop our heroes. Visually, the scene is well done, but the attempted escape from the tidal wave shakes the foundations of the movie’s premise. While the ending of the movie is quite good, it gets weakened by its last scene, which once again seems a bit over the top.
All in all, where The Mummy stayed within its boundaries excellently, The Mummy Returns at times tries to do too much, and loses a bit of the charm of the original. However, The Mummy Returns manages to back down just enough from these errors to remain a solid complement to the sequel.
Movie Fact: Painful Filming
According to IMDB, Brendan Fraser tore a spinal disk, cracked a rib, and injured his knees during production. Ouch.
The Mummy Collector’s Set is the most economical way to buy this movie.
Consistent Premise: 50
Body Count: 70
Time to First Dead Body: Quick
Special Effects: 89
Overall: 74 (Satisfying, yet a bit off from the original)